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Poster F111

Task learning is subserved by a domain-general brain network

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Jiwon Yeon1,2, Alina Larson3, Dobromir Rahnev1, Mark D'Esposito4; 1Georgia Institute of Technology, 2Stanford University, 3University of California, Santa Cruz, 4University of Califorania, Berkeley

Humans have a remarkable ability to learn and perform entirely new tasks after a few trials. Learning novel tasks is one of the most important human faculties, but little is known about its brain mechanisms. Specifically, it is still unclear to what extent domain-general and/or domain-specific brain mechanisms underlie the learning of new tasks. We collected functional MRI while the subjects (N=45) performed six novel tasks inside the scanner. The tasks required the engagement of perceptual, motor, and four different cognitive processes (i.e., attention, expectation, speed-accuracy tradeoff, and metacognition). We found that in the initial stage of task learning, a bilateral frontoparietal network was more active compared to the later stages. Moreover, this effect was stronger for initial task variants that required more learning compared to later task variants. Critically, the same bilateral frontoparietal network was activated in all six tasks, which demonstrates the domain generality of the brain circuits engaged in learning novel tasks. Finally, while overall activity in the bilateral frontoparietal network decreased in the later stages of task learning, the connectivity between the different nodes became stronger. The study shows that the activity and connectivity of the brain network reflect the learning of new tasks, which indicates the existence of a domain-general brain network for learning a variety of new tasks and that the network may underlie the human capacity for acquiring new abilities.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024